Tagged: 300

Mike Gold: Restoring Our Sense of Wonder

Savage DragonBack in the days of purple hallucinogenic duplicator fluid, Bill Schelly published a great fanzine called Sense of Wonder. In an era when there were many first-rate fanzines (Alter-Ego, Fantasy Illustrated, RBCC), Bill’s zine was the most aptly-named. That’s what comic books were all about. Playing to the sense of wonder.

Today, well, not so much. Comics offer us nitty-gritty, slow moving but quick reading stories that are meant to be collected into trade paperback form. The audience is a lot older than it was a half-century ago, and that’s okay. Times change, tastes change.

But then there’s the “baby-for-the-bath-water” argument. I think we have turned our backs on a vital portion of our potential audience. We’ve finally addressed the younger end of the audience, primarily through recent efforts from Boom!, IDW and Archie, although DC and Marvel continue to churn out needlessly lame versions of their cartoon characters. That’s their problem. Our problem is, how do you keep the readers too old for Adventure Time but too young for Hawkeye? What do we have for the “bridge” readers?

Obviously, it’s an issue of commitment from the publishers. They must invest in their own future, and sometimes they’re trying to sustain their current efforts and don’t have the cash flow or incentive to experiment. But, I think, it’s also a talent issue. It’s hard for a publisher to turn down a great concept from established talent. It happens – well, it happens a lot, but we need more.

The greatest comics creators bathed in the sense of wonder. Jack Kirby, Wally Wood, Will Eisner, Bud Sagendorf, Carl Barks, Carmine Infantino… the list is nearly endless. And many of those who grew up reading these masters bathe in similar waters: Jim Starlin, Walter Simonson, Keith Giffen, Howard Chaykin, et al. But too many comics creators who are not on Medicare are sadly less likely to be fantasists.

Today there are only a handful of such titles being produced by the larger publishers. But Erik Larsen has been doing Savage Dragon for 200 issues – if you count crossovers and mini’s, that number is probably about 300. Somebody must be buying it, and I doubt it’s just a couple people with severe myopia thinking they’re getting a lot of variant editions.

Maybe we perceive such stuff as “children’s comics” and we feel indulging in such storytelling is a step backwards. Retro. I don’t think so. The sense of wonder addresses all audiences. Just go to the movie theater during afternoon showings and count the number of old geezers wearing 3-D glasses.

We need to address the entire humanity of potential audiences. And we desperately need to hold on to our sense of wonder.

 

The Superhero Arms Race– And Chest Race, Too

Chris Pratt, before and afterActing skill – even paired with leading-man looks and undeniable charisma – is not enough to get you cast in a big-budget spy thriller or a Marvel Comics franchise. “A decade or so ago, Stallone and Van Damme and Schwarzenegger were the action stars,” says Deborah Snyder, who produces husband Zack Snyder’s films: 300, Man of Steel, the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie. “Now we expect actors who aren’t action stars to transform themselves. And we expect them to be big and powerful and commanding.”

Michael B. Jordan, who got his break as The Wire’s sensitive kid Wallace and raised his profile in last year’s Fruitvale Station, knows he needs to be able to bulk up on command if he wants to break into the A-list. “You’ve gotta be ready to take off your shirt,” he says, and he will as the Human Torch in next year’s Fantastic Four movie. “They want to blow you up and put you in a superhero action film. Being fit is so important. . . . The bar has been raised.” …

Gunnar Peterson, the trainer who for decades has maintained the physiques of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and others, agrees. “For male action heroes,” he says, “it’s an arms race now.”

via Men’s Journal Magazine.

300: Rise of an Empire Combo Pack Coming June 24

300: Rise of an Empire Combo Pack Coming June 24

DisplayMAMExtViewBurbank, CA, May 9, 2014 – Vengeance is sought when 300: Rise of an Empire arrives onto Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD Special Edition and Digital HD on June 24 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Producer Zack Snyder teams up with Director Noam Murro to create the follow up to the 2007 hit “300” in the same visually stunning style as the original.  The stylized epic follows two warring nations that fight for glory amidst a raging sea.

Adapted from a screenplay by Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, and based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel “Xerxes,” Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ 300: Rise of an Empire was directed by Noam Murro. Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder and Bernie Goldmann produced the film, with Thomas Tull, Frank Miller, Stephen Jones, Craig J. Flores and Jon Jashni serving as executive producers.

The film stars Sullivan Stapleton (“Gangster Squad”) as Themistokles and Eva Green (“Dark Shadows”) as Artemisia, alongside Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”) as the Spartan Queen, Gorgo; David Wenham (“Better Man”) as Dilios; Andrew Tiernan (“Ripper Street”) as Ephialtes; Andrew Pleavin (“The Borgias”) as Daxos; and Rodrigo Santoro (“The Last Stand”) returns in the role of the Persian God-King, Xerxes. The main cast also includes Hans Matheson (“The Christmas Candle”) as Themistokles’ closest friend and advisor, Aeskylos; Callan Mulvey (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Jack O’Connell (“Skins”) as father and son soldiers, Scyllias and Calisto; and Igal Naor (“Ambassadors”) as the Persian King Darius.

300: Rise of an Empire will be available on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack for $44.95 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack for $35.99.  Both include a digital version of the movie on Digital HD with UltraViolet.* Fans can also own 300: Rise of an Empire in Digital HD on June 24 via purchase from digital retailers.

SYNOPSIS

300: Rise of an Empire, told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster “300,” is a new chapter of the epic saga, which takes the action to a new battlefield—the sea.

The story pits the Greek general Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces, ruled by the mortal-turned-god Xerxes, and led by Artemisia, the vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

Knowing his only hope of defeating the overwhelming Persian armada will be to unite all of Greece, Themistokles ultimately leads the charge that will change the course of the war.

BLU-RAY AND DVD ELEMENTS

300: Rise of an Empire Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and 2-Disc Standard Definition DVD Special Edition contain the following special features:

  • The 300 Effect

o   3 Days in Hell

o   Brutal Artistry

o   A New Breed of Hero

o   Taking the Battle to the Sea

  • Real Leaders & Legends
  • Women Warriors
  • Savage Warships
  • Becoming a Warrior

DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS

300: Rise of an Empire will be available for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high definition and standard definition on their favorite devices from select digital retailers including Amazon, CinemaNow, Flixster, iTunes, PlayStation, Target Ticket, Vudu, Xbox and others. Starting June 24, 300: Rise of an Empire will also be available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

BASICS

PRODUCT                                                                            SRP

Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack                          $44.95

Blu-ray Combo Pack                                   $35.99

DVD 2-disc Special Edition (WS)         $28.98

Street Date: June 24, 2014

DVD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French

BD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese

DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French

BD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Brazilian Portuguese

Running Time: 103 minutes

Rating: R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language

Final Four of Mix March Madness 2014 Webcomics Tournament! Vote now!

UPDATE 4/9: Round 6 has ended. Vote in the championship now!

UPDATE 4/5: After conversing with some of the contestants, we decided to extend voting til Tuesday, to give a fairer chance rather than run the thing on a quiet weekend. So you may still have time! Tell your friends!

It’s getting down to the wire! Round 5 is over, and we’ve raised another $42 for the Hero Initiative. Now we’re down to the Final Four! This round Mix March Madness 2014 Webcomics Tournament starts now, and lasts until Tuesday!

We’re down from over 300 nominees to four final contenders— Ava’s Demon, Paranatural, Grrl Power, and Monsterkind! Congratulations to the division winners! And now… the brackets.

[iframe_loader width=”474″ height=”550″ frameborder = “0” scrolling=’auto’ src=”http://www.bracketmaker.com/tmenu.cfm?edit=1&tid=452430&tclass=”]

(To see the previous brackets, go back to Round 4.)

hero_Initiative

As usual, we’re letting you support your favorite strips by paying for additional votes, with your money going to charity. Simply click on the Donate button below, and during checkout, click on “Which comic are you donating for?” and tell us who you’re voting for. We’re getting down to the wire, so we’re raising the price a bit to 25¢ a vote, with a minimum of four votes purchased at a time, split any way you want. All proceeds from paid votes will go to the Hero Initiative, an organization that helps comic book creators in need. At the close of the round, we’ll add the paid votes to the totals and announce the winners who move on to the brackets. (And yes, your donations to Hero are tax deductible.)




Again, voting ends at midnight Eastern Time on Tuesday night! Good luck to everyone!

REVIEW: Cleopatra in Space

Cleopatra in Space: Target Practice
By Mike Maihack
169 pages, Scholastic Graphix, $12.99

cleo01_frontcoverThe allure of Cleopatra VII has endured over the millennia and continues to be a source of fascination for people young and old. As a result, she is an easy subject to inject into novels, plays, and unfortunately, this graphic novel. What could have been a fun, interesting, character-driven fish out of water story became a by-the-numbers young adult graphic novel that bears no resemblance to the source.

Mike Maihack is a talent and clever storyteller and the art and color make the book a fun, if irritating, read. He has an open style that is expressive and a restrained color palette so you’re not overwhelmed. He’s been producing this as a webcomic since 2010 and the first cycle of stories is being collected by Scholastic’s Graphix imprint in April. A second volume is already promised for 2015 so they’re expecting great things.

Fifteen year old Cleopatra (or Cleo to her friends) is snatched from Egypt by a piece of technology that sends her far into the future where she has to attend an intergalactic school in order to fulfill her destiny of saving the universe. Her teacher Khensu, a talking cat, tries to mentor her, tempering her youthful exuberance and adolescent ways with exasperating results.

The future world is made up of species and races from around the galaxy, all of whom are looking to Cleo to save them from the Xerx War that threatens life as they know it. Additionally, they have no way of sending her home so she can fulfill her first destiny, to be the last great pharaoh of Egypt’s classic period.

History shows Cleopatra was fourteen when she was named co-regent with her father, Ptolemy XII, until his death when she was eighteen. So right here, the book makes little sense. Secondly, she arrives in the far future and at no point does she appear confused by the languages, the knowledge there is life beyond Earth, the technology, etc. Sher arrives, is assigned classes, and settles into dorm life where she is a slacker student but a deadly shot.

This is not the Cleopatra of history, the wily, tough leader who charmed two Roman leaders and oversaw her people after prolonged battle.  None of what we know of her personality is here, instead we’re given a modern day plucky teenager and we’ve seen that. We’ve seen the “savior” storyline, we’ve seen ti all before so plopping Cleopatra into this does nothing but trade on her name.

There is little explanation about why the organization that recruited her is acronymed .P.Y.R.A.M.I.D. or why there are Egyptian touches, such as her sphinx sky cycle, so far into the future on another world. Similarly, the Xerx is reminiscent of Xerxes, the Persian, conqueror of Greece as immortalized in 300 while their leader is Xarius Octavian (the surname being that of Caesar’s son who wound up with Egypt after Cleo killed herself).  The supporting cast is visually interesting but woefully under-utilized. What could have and should have been something different is a cookie-cutter approach to a young adult graphic novel, so it’s all the more disappointing that her 8-12 year old readers will know nothing of what the true Queen of the Nile was like.

Announcing the Mix March Madness 2014 Seeding Round!

UPDATE: Seeding round is over! Go vote in Round 1 now!ComicMixMarchMadnessFeatured

Yes, it’s that time of year again, the time where bracketology reigns supreme and the cry around the nation is “Win or Go Home!” Last year’s Mix March Madness Webcomics Tournament was incredibly popular, and so we’re doing it all over again– and raising money for the Hero Initiative in the process! Find out how…

(more…)

Box Office Democracy: “300: Rise of an Empire”

300: Rise of an Empire is a movie that made me doubt my own sanity.  I watched that movie and wondered if I had completely imagined the ending of the original movie and, for that matter, the graphic novel it was based on.  I distinctly remembered that story closing with a mass of people being told the story of the brave 300 and how their sacrifice inspired the Greeks to band together and now they would fight the Persians and now their victory was assured.  I had to run to YouTube to find this clip to assure myself that that is how the movie ended.  It’s too bad no one involved with 300: Rise of an Empire bothered to do 40 seconds of searching because they could have avoided completely negating their entire first movie.

300: Rise of an Empire takes place before, during, and after the original film and tells a highly fictionalized version of the Battle of Salamis (for example, in the real battle the light from the sun was not exclusively orange and grey).  Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) is leading a rag tag band of a Greek navy against the unbeatable Persian navy led by Greek-born warmonger Artemisia (Eva Green).  While leading the war Themistocles must also help Calisto (Jack O’Connell), the son of his friend Scyllas (Callan Mulvey) become a man and a soldier, a process achieved mostly through meaningful glances that seem to constantly threaten to turn this movie into another kind of Greek affair.

The Greek navy happens to be hopelessly outnumbered in this battle much like the Spartan army to the south but these soldiers, who are called out as being poets and sculptors before the fighting begin, handle themselves just as well as the Spartans do in the first movie dispatching dozens of Persian sailors for every casualty.  It kind of weakens the greatness of the fantastic Spartan army if it turns out that any Greek of the streets with a spear and a shield could have performed about as well.  There’s also the moment when Themistocles and his men find out that the 300 have fallen and rather than be inspired to unite as one Greece like they showed at the end of the first film it inspires everyone to want to give up and have many long conversations about how hopeless they are.  It’s a rare movie that can make me feel bad for trampling over the plot points of its predecessor when I didn’t even like that movie in the first place.

You might have noticed something about all those names in parentheses in the preceding paragraphs, they all play Greeks and they’re all remarkably pale English, Scottish, New Zealanders, Australian, or French people.  It’s whitewashing and it’s offensive, the only dark-skinned people in this movie are on the Persian side and they’re overwhelmingly incompetent or cowards.  Even Xerxes is retconned in to being the pawn of Artemisia and her anti-Greek ambition.  Artemisia is the palest person in this movie, which stretches credulity to the breaking point as they portray her as a Greek-born slave turned Persian admiral.  None of those activities seem like they would be conducive to avoiding the sun.

The worst thing about 300: Rise of an Empire is that it’s going to be used to defend Zack Snyder.   He must be something more than the only person fighting Michael Bay for a seat at the musical chairs of the world’s worst directors if he can leave a franchise and see the quality plummet like this.  Maybe there is some measure of artistry in all that slow motion if someone copying the technique can make it look so much worse.

The Point Radio: Getting 300 Back On The Big Screen

Building a sequel to the hit film 300 wasn’t an easy task, and Zack Snyder talks about the choices he made to get RISE OF AN EMPIRE on the big screen and Lena Headey shares what it’s like to play another tough (but flawed) character. Plus CONSTANTINE gets a cast and Marvel gears up for their 75th.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Michael Davis: Denys Fucking Cowan

Davis Art 133112Mike Gold is going to kill me. Again, It’s pushing 9pm PST and this article is just now being put together. This time I did wait until the last minute.

No excuses. I had a horrible falling out with a loved one that and a recent rash of random negative bullshit has totally thrown me completely off my game.

And yes, I’m about to have a pity party. I’m due. I haven’t had one since…never.

I personally sent out invitations to 30 people in advance of the VIP invite list. These were those I felt I must share what I knew would be one of the greatest events in my life the opening of Milestones: African Americans In Comics, Pop Culture & Beyond.

My invites reached zero people for whatever reason, so 10 days or so before I’m sending them out again and for all 30 I write a personal note apologizing for the late notice and pleading for them to attend. The longest and most heartfelt was written to my 10th grade art teacher Ms. Renee Darvin.

Less than five minutes after I sent that note I find out she died. I’m a wreck for a few days, but I carry on.

No. No I don’t.

Tatiana El Khouri, my co-curator for the show, saveed my ass. I was useless. Every major decision made over the next few days was all Tatiana. I was just looking to put my fist in a wall or someone’s face.

So there was that.

Speaking of which, I’m currently doing 300 hours of community service for (almost) putting my fist in someone face.

Now about those 300 hours…I was twice given the wrong information from the genius that work for the court so it’s impossible to complete the hours by my due date.

So there was that.

The Milestones show was always to feature the art of Denys Cowan as the centerpiece. Yeah, he’s my best friend but he’s also Denys Fucking Cowan. Without whom Milestone Media would never have happened and as such the Milestones show would have never been.

Denys

Fucking

Cowan.

If for some reason that does not impress you consider this; a month or so ago Jay Leno had Quinton Tarantino as his guest and Jay held up the Django Unchained hardcover opened to Deny’s work. There were a number of artists in the volume but Quinton choose Denys’.

Not impressed?

Well, when your fan boy ass sits down to Martin Scorsese’s latest masterpiece; The Wolf Of Wall Street, ask yourself why you are not impressed when Denys’ face appears right smack in the middle of the film by way of an magazine ad he was featured in back in 1989.

Leno, Tarantino, Scorsese.

People at their level do nothing by chance. You don’t show 20 million television viewers a random page in a graphic novel nor do you display a random magazine ad in a 100 million dollar movie.

Leno, Tarantino, Scorsese.

Denys Fucking Cowan.

Denys’ work was always to be the centerpiece of the huge Milestones exhibit. The exhibit that was two years in the making, the exhibit that was to be the crowning cherry on top of the 20th year anniversary of Milestone cake.

All 28 pieces of his work were lost (bullshit, stolen…in my opinion) by UPS.

There was that.

I’ve been dealing with that for the last three weeks. Then a few days ago I had a horrible falling out with one of the loves of my life and said some horrible things and even if I was right to say them I shouldn’t have.

Now I feel like shit.

There was that.

Then a dog that wasn’t even one of my dogs (my dogs know better) pissed on my X-Box. It still works, hence the dogs still lives.

There was that.

Then the ultimate blow.

Everyone knows Christmas is my favorite time of year.

This year, no Christmas spirit and on Christmas day I was alone. I made it a point to whine like a little bitch to my dear beloved Lucy who tried her best to bring me out of my funk.

Like I said, I’ve never had a pity party but it’s my gift to myself and I was feeling pretty good about my pity party when I thought of the Christmas Eve gift I received in the form of a call from three of my former students, Felix Serrano, John Giuffo and Jean Segarra.

Man, that was great. But I figured I could still manage a pretty good pity party with that wonderful present but then I thought of the following…

Not a word. Not a fucking word.

Denys knew days before the opening his most prized work was gone, perhaps forever. He was heartbroken. I’ve seen him like that only twice in our 30 plus year friendship. Once was when the woman who raised him died, his grandmother and again when his grandfather died.

This was just like that. It was like a death in his family. Yeah, I knew. His family knew, but the hundred plus people who were the selected few invited to the opening of Milestones? Some of which were lifelong friends? Some of the most important sure to be sympathetic people in the industry?

Not a word.

Denys said not a word to anyone about the massive pain he was feeling in so doing he ruined my perfectly good pity party with his class and dignity.

All I can do now is make good on my promise I made the second after I told Denys his work was missing; “Trust me, you will get your work back. Every single page. I can’t say exactly when or under what circumstance but every single page will be back in your hands. Some UPS motherfucker is about to realize they opened the wrong box and when asked why UPS sends their packages Fed-Ex his great grandson will answer Denys Fucking Cowan.”

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Tweeks

 

“Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” closing $60 million in the red

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark will end its Broadway run on January 4, with expected losses of $60 million, the biggest loss ever in Broadway history. New York Magazine has a breakdown on the show’s costs, both financial:

$1,300,000: Weekly production budget

$2,940,000: Gross for the week of December 25, 2011, the highest one-week take for any show ever

$621,960: Gross for the last week in September 2013

and human (five people with major injuries, including one person who required amputation).

Most disturbing to me: they spent more money on props and puppets for the show than Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko has ever seen from the creation of Spider-Man.

Tickets are available now, heavily discounted if you know where to look and are willing to brave Christmastime crowds in Times Square.

via A Monetary Autopsy of Spider-Man — Vulture.